Earlier this week, we took to social media to find out what was on your mind heading into the Raiders Christmas Eve matchup with the San Diego Chargers. You asked and Raiders.com Senior Editor Jerry Knaak answered.
From Megan C: How special is Thursday night's game going to be for the players?
JK: It's going to be very special in light of Charles Woodson's retirement announcement, and the fact that this is the last home game of the 2015 season. The Raiders have shown much improvement this season and produced three Pro Bowl players in Woodson, defensive end Khalil Mack and fullback Marcel Reece, plus three alternates – quarterback Derek Carr, running back Latavius Murray and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
From Alan J**: Is there going to be any type of special sendoff for Charles Woodson for his final home game?
JK: Silver and Black Productions - the Raiders in-house Emmy-award winning production team - will have a few things up their sleeves. I fully expect a nice video looking back at all the highlights for No. 24 in the Silver and Black. Make sure you are in your seats for player intros. You won't want to miss Charles Woodson being introduced to the Raider Nation one last time. Throw those "Os" up.
From Jim B: Charles is currently second in the league in takeaways – do you think he'll end up leading the league?
JK: Anything can happen. He has proven to be a magnet for the football this season. He has five interceptions and has come close to a few more. He has shown the propensity for stripping the ball and the football has a way of finding him. With quarterback Philip Rivers' tendency to throw the ball deep with little regard for the coverage, I think a pick or two is not out of the question.
From Curtis W: Do you expect this game to be as easy as the first time around vs. the Chargers this season?
JK: Nothing is easy in the National Football League. An opportunistic defense and some big plays led to a huge lead for the Raiders in San Diego back in October, but quarterback Philip Rivers led a furious comeback and the Raiders had to hold on in the fourth quarter to secure that victory. Plus, the Chargers just came off an emotional win at home against the Miami Dolphins and this game will be in front of a Prime Time national audience.
From Marqez W**: Derek Carr is quietly on pace to break 4,000 yards passing – what will it take for him to get more respect?
JK: I think Derek Carr has plenty of people's attention. Just about every week when the Bay Area speaks to the opposing head coach, Carr is singled out and spoken of very highly. Each time the Raiders win a game, Carr usually leads the highlight package. When a team wins, the quarterback probably gets too much credit, and when the team loses, the quarterback probably takes too much of the blame. He is 411 yards away from 4,000 and it's not impossible for him to reach it if he just hits his per game average. He sits 10th in the NFL in passing yards and fifth in touchdown passes with 30.
From Jared H: This is the first game that the team is officially eliminated from the playoffs – what are the motivational points for the last two games?
JK: Every team wants to finish strong. These are two divisional games, so you always want to win in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs could be playing for the division title, as crazy as that sounds, when the Raiders come to town Jan. 3. The Raiders could be playing spoiler there. Guys will be playing for jobs for next season or trying to reach milestones and win awards. But the bottom line is winning. The Raiders have a chance to go 8-8 for the first time since 2011. The Raiders players talked this week about making sure Woodson's last home game is a win.
From Claire P: Will Latavius Murray get back on track before the season ends? I want to see him break 1000 yards on Thursday.
JK: San Diego gives up 120 yards per game on the ground so it's not out of the question that Latavius Murray could or should crack 1,000 Thursday night, he needs just 44.
From Thomas M**: If Mario Edwards Jr. can't play, how will the pass rush be affected and will that hurt Khalil Mack's chances on the other side?
JK: Defensive end Denico Autry has put together and impressive season and should see more time in the next two games now that Edwards has been placed on injured reserve. Defensive end Shelby Harris could play a bigger role along with Benson Mayowa. The Raiders have capable pass rushers to complement first-time Pro Bowler Khalil Mack.
From Harold K: Do you worry about any of the players being too hyped up in this game?
JK: There might be a rush of emotion at the beginning of the game, Charles Woodson, regular season home finale, division rival Prime Time on NFL Network, Christmas Eve – but I am sure it will all settle down and a pretty good football game will break out.